You know what? Before I became a teacher, I complained about my neighborhood, politics, and religion. Never my job. Oh, how I long for those days.
For those of you just joining the chorus at "The Gods Are Bored," I'm a school teacher at a vo-tech just east of Camden, NJ.
Earlier in the school year, I got trolled on parent night by someone who posted the "n" word and also called me a white cracker. It was good for a few laughs in the teachers' lounge.
But on Thursday, I was doing a "gallery walk" for my students' writers notebooks. The students were walking around the room, commenting on one another's notebook entries. And someone in the room wrote the "n" word on the paper of an African American student.
In all my years of teaching, I've never seen ... yada yada yada Doesn't matter. My jaw dropped and hasn't returned to normal.
The wronged student filed a report on the incident (as did I) but will not come back to class, because the criminal who wrote the word is still in my room. I know it because every kid who was there on the day it happened came back the next day -- except the victim, who is one of my brightest kids this year.
Someone in the room has been convicted in the court of public opinion, but that's not enough to get them out of my class, and out of the school. There has to be convincing proof. Which means that on Friday, I had to conduct class as if the incident hadn't even happened, hoping to collect a writing sample from each kid featuring a capital G.
I will say right out of the gate that the perpetrator could not have been Caucasian, because I only have one Caucasian kid that period (out of 23 kids total), and he's a baa lamb who sits on the other side of the room.
There's nothing quite like having to call the parent of the wronged student to apologize and try to make amends. When I say I have been shaking like a leaf and sick to my stomach since it happened, I do not exaggerate.
As a teacher, I feel like I am the captain of the ship. If someone is injured on my watch, it's my fault. And this is the worst injury a student can face in my school, short of being slam-dunked or shot. I feel horrible.
I haven't gotten blowback from administration -- yet. But that may change when I insist that the suspect be re-assigned to another classroom, even if they can't prove he did it. (The suspect is tearfully proclaiming his innocence.)
The worst part of this is not being able to flip my shit about it in front of the whole class. I have a lot of African American students in there, and I'm sure they're concluding I don't give a damn about them. Never mind the cute little Hispanic girls who are sure they know who did it, but they can't be positive, but they want to see justice served.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Every day droves of students are going home, infected with Covid or quarantining. Seven students got called out of my 9th period class on Friday. Word on the street has it that kids left on Wednesday non-stop from beginning to end.
I need the pay and benefits at my job. If I didn't, I would quit.
I would honestly rather be writing about Jeff Bozos and the Big Blue
Dick Horizon, but it's hardly on my mind.
Breaking out every charm, ointment, and spell I can use to set this right. My teacher desk is going to look very interesting on Monday. I'll try to take a photo.